Wednesday, September 10, 2003

True compassion. The Globe's Kevin Cullen comes up with the best explanation for why Archbishop Seán O'Malley was able to wrap up settlement talks so quickly with the victims of pedophile priests. He writes:

Also noticed by victims was O'Malley's response to the family of Gregory Ford, a 25-year-old Newton man who says he was raped by a priest almost 20 years ago.

When Ford, who said the Rev. Paul R. Shanley abused him, suffered an emotional breakdown a week after Geoghan was killed, O'Malley immediately agreed to pay for specialized residential treatment for Ford. O'Malley had met privately with Ford's parents, Rodney and Paula Ford, and pledged to do whatever he could to help their troubled son.

Last year, [Cardinal Bernard] Law's lawyer had sent a legal response to the Fords' lawsuit against the archdiocese, suggesting the parents were negligent in allowing their son to be abused.

Rodney and Paula Ford, who had done so much to point out the failings of Cardinal Law, were now vouching for his successor, an endorsement that carried enormous weight inside the tight-knit milieu of alleged victims and their lawyers.

There will be hard times ahead for O'Malley, especially when he attempts -- as he inevitably will -- to assert the Catholic Church's conservative cultural agenda on issues such as gay and lesbian rights and reproductive choice.

But his genuine compassion has already won him more good will than Law was able to garner for himself in nearly two decades. Even a non-Christian like me thinks we're lucky to have him.

Copywrong. Here's something to consider as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) goes about trying to sue its best potential customers into penury for sharing downloaded music files: at least some of them might have no idea of what they're doing.

The Media Log household makes limited use of LimeWire, which is the Macintosh equivalent of the better-known KaZaA. My 12-year-old son, Tim, has used it to download such classics as the theme to one of the Mario video games as well as some Beavis and Butt-head sound clips.

I've grabbed a few rarities that -- to my knowledge -- are not available for legitimate sale at any price. (Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan dueting on "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," anyone?)

Yet recently, after reading a story about the lawsuits, I checked Tim's LimeWire settings -- and saw, to my horror, that the program had automatically set things up so that dozens of songs he had copied from legally purchased CDs to the iMac were available for other Limewire users to download.

I futzed with the settings and turned off file-sharing. Whew! But to think we could have been sued for something a piece of software had done without our knowledge was unsettling, to say the least.

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